As financial advisors with nearly four combined decades of wealth management experience, we’ve seen firsthand the challenges that money management and personal finance pose for consumers. Whether it’s saving for retirement, funding the cost of education, paying down burdensome student loans, or establishing an emergency fund, money is the second most common cause of stress according to a 2017 poll from the American Psychological Association.
In an effort to alleviate some of this burden and guide consumers through the financial decision-making process, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago has designated March 30 to April 6 National Money Smart Week. It’s a growing campaign (started in 2002) that will include thousands of free financial literacy events, seminars, and workshops in hundreds of cities across the country.
During Money Smart Week 2018, more than 141,000 people attended upwards of 4,000 events. In 2019, our home states of Illinois and Georgia have several impactful programs on the docket. For example, a number of libraries on Chicago’s North Shore are hosting workshops on investments and retirement planning, while students near Decatur, Georgia, can attend a seminar at Agnes Scott College on preparing financially for life after graduation. Programming is not limited to just adults and young adults. There are several engaging options for kids and their families, as the path to sound fiscal decision-making starts at an early age.
The Money Smart Week campaign is impactful in that its diverse programming hits directly at the issue of financial literacy and education. Financial literacy is nothing more than developing an understanding of different financial principles, as well as the tools and resources one has at their disposal. It sounds simple, but there are many financial concepts, such as the impact of tax deferrals and compounding on 401(k)’s or the effect of delaying student loan repayment, that remain difficult for consumers to comprehend.
A more holistic understanding of financial literacy also helps to spur confidence, a key cog in financial decision-making. Without confidence, consumers may find it difficult to set long-term goals and take control of their financial future. Confidence is also critical for overcoming financial challenges, which we all have faced or will face at one point or another.
Whether you live in Illinois, Georgia, or anywhere in between, we encourage you to explore all that Money Smart Week 2019 has to offer. It’s an exemplary initiative that can truly make a positive difference for all consumers.
For more information on Money Smart Week, visit moneysmartweek.org.
Sabina Sewillo is a Family Wealth Advisor, Vice President and Financial Advisor with the Wealth Management Division of Morgan Stanley in Chicago. Michael Merlin is a managing director and private wealth advisor for Merlin Wealth Management at Morgan Stanley in Atlanta, Georgia. The information contained in this column is not a solicitation to purchase or sell investments.